BE WISE: A STORM WARNING
Most times it come at the worst possible time. Often they come quickly, and usually unexpectedly. The wind, the rain, the waves. We’ve all experienced it. We’ve all faced the very real threat that a storm can pose.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that our area experienced devastating storms. Strong wind and pouring rain. Tree were down. Power was lost. The water rose. Streets were blocked. Even some homes were destroyed. Storms like that are nothing to take lightly.
But not all storms are caused by wind and rain. Sometimes the storms come as events or circumstances in our life. And sometimes those “life storms” can be even more devastating than those caused by the weather. And we’ve all experienced those as well.
A loved one gets sick. A job gets lost. A house gets foreclosed on. A spouse walks away. The stock market crashes. A son or daughter get’s caught-up in making terrible mistakes. The phone rings in the middle of the night. An officer comes to the door unexpectedly. Those kinds of storms can also wreak a life!
So what’s a person to do? We can’t spend every minute of every day worrying about what kind of storm may be lurking just around the corner. But there is something we can do. We can prepare. We can do our best to be “Storm ready”. We can learn how to best face the storms when the do come.
And that brings us to the theme of todays message. It’s all about storm warnings … and having the wisdom to intentionally get ready for them
So this morning I’d like for us to take on that subject by stepping back far enough to learn some things about storms. And our source for that learning is going to be one little parable that Jesus told.
If you grew up in church, or if you ever went to Vacation Bible School when you were a kid, you no doubt know this story and the song it inspired. As we take a closer look, I think we can uncover some ideas that’ll help us build a more solid life and to better prepare ourselves to be storm ready.
Let’s begin with the realization that THE STORMS OF LIFE AREN’T OPTIONAL. Everyone. All of us. If you have a pulse, you're on the list to face a storm at some point in your life -- and I’d even venture to guess that you've already faced one or two. Well guess what? There’s more to come.
Here's something we sometimes don't think about. In spite of all he had done right, the wise man went through the very same storm as the foolish man. That's because it’s not optional. Everyone goes through the storm.
Jesus said earlier in the Sermon on the Mount that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. It makes no difference who you are. Good, bad, young, old, rich poor, handsome or not, talented or not, intelligent or not, wise or not, – even religious or not - you still have to go through the storm.
By that I mean health problems, financial problems, relationship problems, job problems, betrayals, disappointments -- all types of storms that everyone has to endure at some point in their life.
The thing is, I think too many of us, when we face the difficulties of life, automatically think that the hardships are obviously a punishment from God.
We’ve been conditioned to associate difficulties with disobedience. If things aren’t going well, it must be our own fault! But that’s not always the case.
Now don’t get me wrong … Some Storms We Bring On Ourselves. You see, sin always brings consequences. If we disobey a Biblical principle for how to live life, we shouldn’t be surprised when things don’t go well!
When we make bad decisions, or go against God’s direction for our life, we’re going to encounter difficulties. It’s the principle of reaping what we sow.
But please understand, Not All Storms Are of Our Own Making. Think about it. The wise man did everything right. But a terrifying storm still came. What I’m saying is, sometimes, even when we do it right, we may still very well find ourselves in the middle of a storm!
To spell it out, that means that at some time or another, we're all going to get wet. At some time or another, we're all going to get rained on. It means that there’ll be times when you have to cancel the picnic and reschedule the game.
More dramatically, it means that all of us, at one time or another, will find ourselves in the center of a situation that may seem out of control. We’re all destined to endure the occasional storm that's strong enough to bring an average house down to the ground.
But that doesn't mean that God has turned away from you. It just means simply that you walk the same trail and sail the same stormy waters as everyone else.
The storms of life aren’t optional. We don’t get to pick when or where or even if a storm will come. It’s not optional. Storms happen!
That brings me to the second thing I think we need to learn to be storm ready. And that is that THE STORMS OF LIFE AREN’T INVINCIBLE. What I mean is, they're not all-powerful.
A storm may come along and knock you down ... but it doesn't have to knock you out. You can survive any storm that comes your way. And, as a matter of fact, you can even come through that storm stronger than ever before.
So if you have built your life on something solid, you’ll experience the storms differently than most people do. When you build your life on something solid, the storm won't have the same kind of destructive power it might otherwise have.
What do I mean when I say 'if you’ve built your life on something solid'? I'm referring to what Jesus said in the text we read earlier. Let me read vs 24 again. Jesus says, "Anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."
Now don’t miss what Jesus is saying here. If you live your life putting into practice the teachings of Jesus, and the teachings of scripture, then when the storms of life do come, they won't be able to do bring your house down!
For example, if you’ve spend your life putting into practice the financial principles found in the Bible, then when the financial storm comes, it may bring with it some damage, but it won't wipe you out.
If you’ve spend your life putting into practice the scriptural teaching about marriage and family relationships, or about your work ethic, or about the way you take care of yourself physically …
… then when the storms do come, they may be uncomfortable, but they won't bring destruction … because your life is built on the solid foundation of what the Biblical teaches.
I've seen it happen. I know good solid spiritually mature people who’ve faced every type of storm imaginable -- from bankruptcy to health crisis to death of a loved one to personal betrayal and on and on and on.
And, yes, the storms were really painful. But through it all, their house stood strong: they survived the storm because their life was built on a solid foundation of obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Someone might say, "That’s the problem. Up to this point, I haven’t built my life on the teachings of Jesus. I’ve built my life on something else. So now I'm facing the storm and things are starting to collapse. Now it’s too late!”
Actually, it's not too late. If you’ve built your life on sand, if you've made lots of poor decisions over the years and not taken seriously the teachings of Jesus, then the unpleasant truth is, yes, the storms of life will certainly come and yes, they will cause some damage – maybe even serious damage.
But here's what I want you to know, and I'm speaking specifically to those of you who’ve built your life on sand and have now come to regret it. Here's what I want you to know: regardless of the damage that has been done, there exists through Jesus Christ the promise of restoration.
Which brings us to the third thing we need to know to be storm ready. THE RESULTS FROM STORMS OF LIFE DON’T HAVE TO BE PERMANENT.
When the foolish man's house came crashing down, that was the end of the parable … but was it the end of the story for him? No, it wasn't -- not if we believe the rest of what Jesus taught in the gospels, not if we believe the rest of what Scripture says about overcoming a setback.
If you want a good example of someone who built his life on sand, consider the prodigal son. He ran away from home with his inheritance and wasted it all on wild living.
And then when his life came crashing down around him and he found himself literally in a pigpen, what did he do? Was the hog trough the end for the line for the prodigal son? No, it wasn't.
The Bible says that when he came to his senses, he said, “I’ll go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
He then went home and his father received him with open arms and the young man's life was rebuilt and restored.
I want you to know that even when you bring the storm on yourself and your house comes crashing down and your life falls apart, you can be restored. Your life can be rebuilt and made new again.
That's the thing about the storms of life, they can cause damage … sometimes even serious damage … but that damage doesn't have to be permanent. What the storms of life destroy, God can rebuild.
You see, Our God is the God of second chances. The storm you may be facing may be destructive, but the results don’t have to be permanent. Whenever you're ready, you can pick up the pieces and rebuild your life on something more solid ... the rock solid principles that Jesus Taught.
The storms aren’t optional. Whether your life is built on rock or on sand, the storms will come. So don't be confused about what the storm means. God hasn’t abandoned you … neither is he out to get you.
You also need to remember that the storm may be powerful, but it's not invincible … it’s not all-powerful. God can get you through it. Whether you lose a little or whether you lose a lot, he can get you through it.
And if your own bad decisions have made the storm more destructive than it needed to be, I want you to know that it's not the end of the story for you. God can restore you. He can put you back on solid ground. All you have to do is to decide that you're ready to begin building again … and this time include God!
There's an old saying that goes like this: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. But the next best time to plant a tree is right now. The past can't be undone, but it can be redeemed. And that's what God does. He clears away the debris and helps us to build something new.
If that’s your story, you’re in the right place! God isn’t out to get you. And this storm doesn’t have to destroy you. The story’s not over.
But it is your decision how it’ll end. Know that God is faithful. He wants to help! So don’t let the storm have the final word! Let God come in and help you put the pieces back together!